Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!


Wow...another year has passed! We're ALL another year older. The incessant march of time continues it's unrelenting pace. Time slows for no one...that seems to be the unbreakable rule (as far as we know). That, and the double-edged-sword of gravity. Yep...gravity. Can't live without it, but in those (hopefully FEW) dire moments when you are no longer in control of your fate and are plummeting the few feet towards mother earth, it's a real bitch. I crashed on my mt bike a few times this past year. No serious injuries thank goodness, but a renewed dis-appreciation for road-rash (can't imagine how the roadies deal with it so non-nonchalantly..it really SUCKS!)

My charity-work went well last year, as I earned enough money selling fruit, muffins and bagels at work to buy FIVE bikes for World Bicycle Relief (and I bought them all during a time of all donations being matched, so actually I bought TEN Bikes in 2016)! I've been doing this (raising money for charity) for EIGHT STRAIGHT YEARS NOW...it all started back in 2009 with Fatty and making money for LIVESTRONG. We switched to WBR a few years back due to the utter collapse of LIVESTRONG (when it turned out that Lance is the DEVIL). Anyway, at just a cursory glance I've now raised over $11,000 for those two organizations! Not too shabby for doing this on my spare time (I go into work 45 minutes early every day to put out my stuff, then on Friday afternoon I pick my stuff up and put it away after work). That and the time I use going to the store to restock my goodies every week...but hey...I'm helping people that I don't even know....that's kind of cool!

My new year began with me on my knees in the garage, trying to fix my car seat. While I was away in Nevada seeing my Dad and step-mom for a few days over the Holiday break, Jeannie had my car (I took hers...it's bigger for 3 people. Me being taller than Jeannie she had to adjust my seat (it's a 5 speed so getting the clutch to the floor REQUIRES proper seat placement). It's been a while since anybody  has adjusted my seat, and my car is now 14 years old. Something was frozen, and next thing you know the seat won't latch anymore...she had to use a few of my boards in some clever jamming ways to be able to drive my car.

Something I had never really thought of before...if you can't adjust the seat (specifically, if you can't LOCK the seat into position) it's un-drivable! Literally...if I can't fix my seat the car is just a hunk of metal and plastic taking up space in my garage! So I spent well over an HOUR trying to figure out what was wrong (ever TRY to get a good view of the mechanics underneath your car seat? They don't make that easy I can tell you!)

After I figured out the problem (the spring-pin that is moved by the seat-adjust lever was fully retracted, NOT springing back into the center track locking the seat into place), it was another hour trying to figure out HOW to get the seat out to get TO the device to TRY to fix it! (all of this is on my knees btw...and my knees are 56 years old and not really happy about this, even kneeling on a folded over rug). Eventually I figured out that the 2 tracks on the sides let the seat roll forward and backwards, and the center uni-strut type piece mounted in the front of the seat-floor (with holes in one side for the spring pin to latch into) has a long rivet-thinggee that is keeping the entire seat in it's tracks. Remove the rivet-thinggee and it will slide right back out of the tracks and I SHOULD be able to lift the seat out.

Right.....it actually was that easy. NOT. I had to sawzall the rivet-thinggee in 2 places to remove it (when they install these seats in the VW factory in Germany, they are NOT intended to come out again is my impression).  And YAY, the seat did slide right out of the 2 tracks and the center locking device, just like I figured. HOWEVER. The moving part of the operation (the spring loaded pin thing) is still attatched to the seat via a bicycle steel cable and housing (just like a bicycle brake unit) but I can't see ANY way to disconnect it. And the center track sliding/locking thinggee is bolted to the floor. So long story short, the seat is still attached to the floor, albiet by a 1 foot steel cable and housing. With a plastic thingga-ma-jig attaching the cable and housing to the seat-adjusting-lever. Also there are electrical cables connecting the seat to the vehicle wiring harness. NOT even going to try to disconnect those, being as I can't disconnect the steel cable and housing..there's just no reason. But I WAS able to finally lay the seat sort-of on it's side so I could get to the floor-mounted spring-pin thinggee (the movable locking part of this operation).

And obviously it's frozen in the 'unlocked' position. Making a long story short, and without causing further damage, and using a hammer AND some WD-40 I was able to free the spring-locking-pin deallie-job so it now moves again, just like new! Other than the broken cheap-O plastic bits (that broke when I was TRYING to lay the seat sideways so I could get TO the frozen pin thing) I was almost done! So here is where the Jerry-rig comes into play. I have some aluminum tape that I was able to cut into strips and lock the steel-cable/housing unit into a reasonable position (I hope) back to the seat adjusting handle. So far so good, the handle now moves the pin in and out like it should...(not sure how long my jerry-rig tape will hold but for now I'm good...if it fails it will likely slip out of position and then I won't be able to un-lock and move the seat, far better than not being able to lock the seat into position IMO). So with more back and knee-breaking labor I was able to FINALLY get the dang seat back into it's tracks and the center uni-strut piece into IT's track, and viola...it locks and unlocks again! I fabricated a new bolt to replace the rivet-thinggee I sawzall'ed out, and replaced some trim pieces over the wheel tracks, and I was done! My car is now a car again!

I figure VW would have charged me about a thousand bucks for that, OR they would have just replaced the entire seat (if that's even possible for a 14 year old car) charging me more than the car is worth, OR they would have just said they can't fix it and left me in limbo. Either way, it's actually a good start for the new year...my car is ALIVE again! HOORAY!!! Who knew how complicated the under-workings of a car seat are? That's actually quite some engineering come to think of it...the seat needs to easily move back and forth at will, yet lock QUITE solid so that in the event of a car crash it doesn't let go and crush your knees and body into the steering wheel. Boy that spring-pin thinggee must be STRONG!

ANYWAY...I'm NOT doing any bike riding just now...I dropped my NEW (1 year old) mt bike off at the shop down near my brothers house (Newbury Park/Thousand Oaks, the shop I bought it at) as the Cannondale Carbon Lefty fork is STILL having issues....it's been having problems since I bought it. This time they sent it back to the factory...HOORAY! Hopefully it will get FIXED this time...we shall see. Other than the fork issues it's quite a bike, and I can't wait to have it back out on the dirt! It's been rainy and cold (poor me) since I got back from my Dads, and my old mt bike is still in Colorado (where I'll likely be heading back to in a few weeks) so I only have road bikes for now, and I'm not into 'solo' rides unless I'm out on the base (cuz I don't want to DIE from the yahoos NOT paying attention). So my cycling has taken it's usual 'holiday' slack period...and my hard-won fitness is taking a real nose-dive as usual this time of year. Oh well...it will come back..just seems it's harder every year to 'get it back' tho. Something about this 'getting older' thing.

The other thing of note at our house is we FINALLY pulled the trigger and ordered window shutters for the entire house (the interior kind that have the slat running down the middle so you can open and close the shutters, and they swing open to the inside to allow you to clean / get to the windows). We've hated the up/down cheap-O wooden blinds that came with the house ever since the moment we moved in. And the vertical plastic shutters for the 2 sliding glass doors were HORRIBLE. So...we saved and saved for a decade or so, and BAM! Ordered them back in Sept I think (they had to come out twice to measure, and then they take a few months to get made) and we JUST had them installed..took them 2 days on the 30th and 31st (New Years Eve-day)...but BOY do they look GREAT! I had to remove all the blinds and curtains AND hardware, and fill in all the holes, sand them down and then paint over the repairs before the shutters were installed. The shutters for the 2 sliding doors are impressive (and QUITE expensive but well worth it!) I won't give you the total damage, but it was a LOT (however they will substantially add to the value of the house, AND we get to enjoy them the rest of the time we live here!)

So now I just need to finish painting the inside of the house (just bought ANOTHER 5 gallon bucket of paint)...I'll likely work on that some today (the 2nd) and also I need to take down the Christmas lights outside...maybe today, maybe next weekend...we'll see.

And so...our New Year is off to a roaring start! Our health is good, our families are doing good, and our fur-babies re good. I hope YOUR New Year is off to as good a start! My only downside thus far is my Wolverines fell apart (but came back to make the game QUITE close) against Florida State, and then my Raiders totally fell apart against the Broncos (however they at least had a reason...you don't go very far in the NFL with a 3rd string quarterback...likely their playoff run will end quick...but WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR! For BOTH teams! Harbaugh has worked a miracle with a losing team bringing them to the top rungs of the National Championship hunt...just wait until a few years from now when the entire team is of his recruiting! (and look at the Niners, and their utter collapse without him!) And the Raiders...just WOW! 12 and 4? That's a record most teams DREAM of...and for a lifelong Raider fan, well, it's been a LONG WAIT for that kind of season. Losing Carr to a broken leg is just horrible luck...but he will be back next year and I think they Raiders will be a team to recon with. Just you wait Denver and KC! Next year we WILL win those games!

And with that optimistic outlook for 2017 I sign off.

Cheers!

Friday, December 23, 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Once again it's THAT time of year. Wow...Christmas is HERE! ALREADY! It seems impossible that we've come to the end of another year, feels like it was just summer a few blinks ago.

Per tradition, here is our 2016 Christmas card. This year marks the 19th year (out of 20) that I've made our card. I started back in 1997 when I was out on the ships, but I missed missed 1 year since we've been here in Santa Maria. So without further adieu, here it is.











We're off to Arizona in minutes (It's Friday morning), likely will be driving thru a storm that is headed our way. Gotta scoot, MERRY CHRISTMAS to the Asylum! Stay safe and have a wonderful Christmas!

Cheers!